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The Baltimore Sun

Minority shut out of session's debates

While The Sun may be ambivalent about high taxes, I had hoped the newspaper might care about the way they were passed. But apparently it is not.

The Sun urges Republicans to drop their lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the special session ("Much ado about little," editorial, Jan. 2).

As state legislators, we take an oath to defend the Maryland Constitution.

When the Maryland Constitution is ignored or undermined in any way, it erodes the basic foundation of our form of government.

The Sun urges Republicans to work to "engage their peers and the general public on policy." That is exactly what Republicans tried to do by proposing alternatives to the largest tax increase in Maryland history.

Unfortunately, the minority party was shut out of the process.

Marylanders deserved open input, robust dialogue and genuine consensus between the two parties on a way to eliminate the budget deficit.

Instead, the public got backroom deals and a hurried rush to pass higher taxes, perhaps at the expense of our state constitution.

I agree with one sentence in The Sun's editorial: "Marylanders deserve better."

Joseph Boteler

White Marsh

The writer is deputy minority whip for the House of Delegates.

Republicans right to defend rule of law

So Maryland taxes are going up and The Sun considers it "regrettable" that actions by the legislature's Democratic leadership on the tax hikes "were far from flawless" ("Much ado about little," editorial, Jan. 2).

"Regrettable"? Do The Sun's editors no longer believe in the rule of law?

Just because the Democrats are in the political majority does not mean the rest of us are being rude if we insist that they follow the rules, especially when they are jacking up taxes we all have to pay.

And in this case, the issue is not, as The Sun suggests, a mere "technicality" or "nuisance."

The Democrats rammed a huge and ill-considered tax increase through a not-so-special session, and it now appears they broke the rules to do so.

We have courts for this reason - to ensure the rule of law.

As a member of the loyal (Republican) opposition, I find it troubling to see The Sun deride the Republican Party's legal challenge to this action as a "trivial pursuit."

Honoring the procedural rights of a minority is the hallmark of a mature democracy.

One would expect The Sun's editors to know that.

Philip Baker-Shenk


The writer is a member of the Republican Central Committee for Washington County.

Given that the relevance of The Sun is analogous to that of the Republicans' "dwindling minority" in Annapolis, I was surprised by the tone with which The Sun chastised Maryland lawmakers for attempting to derail Gov. Martin O'Malley's recent tax folly.

Whether it's an "obscure provision" or Article I, this state's entire constitution is to be honored and upheld by our elected officials, and for the editorial board to suggest otherwise is simply unconscionable.

Joseph D. Gill


'Thug life' portrayal uses ugly stereotype

I am puzzled as to why The Sun gave the producer of Stop Snitching 2 a nice photo on the front page of the Maryland section along with a rather balanced critique of the film - as if it carries a shred of artistic relevance ("Thug life - the sequel," Dec. 23).

The film is akin to the abominable slime found at the bottom of the Patapsco River, and the article undid a year's worth of Dan Rodricks' anti-street soliloquies on the virtues of nonviolence and righteous living.

Maybe The Sun will next do a profile on D. W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation.

Both films paint young black men as over-aggressive primitives thirsting for violence and sex.

Nate Titman


Whole community must curb killings

While it is good to see that the murders in the city appear to be in a slightly downward trend, the basic problems in the city are not being seriously addressed ("Searching for answers," Dec. 30).

Families are in disarray, schools are not meeting the needs of their students, addiction to drugs and violence is rampant and citizens are distrustful of police.

In days past, when police officers walked the beat, they got to know the residents and especially the children in the neighborhoods.

Folks knew that they could talk to the local officer about problems in the community as well as in their own homes. This casual communication fostered a sense of trust and caring.

Today, families are disrupted by addiction and violence, which the younger generation sees as inevitable and normal.

Prison is not the answer to curb drug addiction and violence.

And finally, while I don't often agree with former Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris, the lack of leadership and stability in the city Police Department has hampered efforts to initiate and follow through on effective crime-fighting strategies.

I hope the current commissioner is given the opportunity to plan and implement the kinds of programs that have worked elsewhere, and given a chance to let them make a difference.

But the police alone cannot do it - change needs to come from state and local government, schools and the people living in our communities if we are to stem the bloodbath among city youths.

Donna McDonough

Perry Hall

Drug treatment isn't the source of danger

The uneducated and misinformed will try to spread the gospel of doom and gloom ("Addiction poses greater dangers," letters, Dec. 22).

But evidence-based scientific studies have shown that Suboxone (buprenorphine/naloxone) is a superb medication, effective and safe, and prescribed with the aid of psycho-social interventions is helping tens of thousands of opiate-dependent patients remain abstinent, re-establish relationships, return to work and get on with their lives in a healthy productive manner.

This certainly poses no danger.

Dr. Mark L. Kraus

Waterbury, Conn.

The writer is a professor at the Yale School of Medicine and a member of the board of the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

Critics of windmills exaggerate the woes

I consider myself an environmentalist, but I must say that I am tired of the wind power naysayers ("Wind power cuts very little carbon," letters, Jan. 1).

The destruction of a relatively small number of trees to build wind turbines is a one-time thing and pales in comparison to the damage to the forests that loggers have been allowed to do.

In recent years, I have driven through much of Germany. Giant wind turbines are all over the place in that country. They are not intrusive - as a matter of fact, they are quite elegant and, one could say, even lovely.

John S. White

Stewartstown, Pa.

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